Tesla Is Playing Catch-Up With China’s BYD in Nearly Every Business Category
By the time Fremont’s flamboyant physicist declared his intent to create a vertically integrated clean energy company, China’s quiet chemist had already built one.
Elon Musk’s Master Plan, Part Deux envisioned a future where Teslas are used for each type of terrestrial transport, from passenger vehicles to buses and trucks, supplemented by a seamless suite of solar-and-storage products.
This vision was probably best captured in Tesla’s announcement of its offer to acquire SolarCity: “We would be the world’s only vertically integrated energy company offering end-to-end clean energy products to our customers.”
In fact, Tesla would be the second such company. China’s BYD (short for “Build Your Dreams”) has already built Elon’s dream — and has done so profitably.
Tesla’s numbers today
Tesla already enjoys advantages of scale over its rivals. It expects EV sales to rise from 50,000 last year to 80,000 this year, for a 60 percent annual growth rate. At 100 kilowatt-hours per vehicle — a slight overestimate — Tesla will have consumed 5 gigawatt-hours of batteries in 2015 and 8 gigawatt-hours in 2016. These volumes dwarf those of its well-known competition.
Though Tesla did not break out its energy storage sales in Q2, it deployed 25 megawatt-hours across four continents in Q1.
Tesla likely won’t commercialize its bus or long-haul trucks before 2020, as it will want to focus on the Model 3 and Model Y. Cars are a far larger market than buses and transport trucks, so it would be ludicrous to go for the latter first.
It’s hard to put a timeline on Tesla’s autonomy efforts, given Mobileye’s termination of the two companies’ relationship, but at least the company can spread the effort across its approximately 15,000 employees. SolarCity would also bring a further 13,000 employees into the fold.